Edited by Jan M. Smits
Chapter 13: Commercial regulation*
Until the early 1980s, comparative lawyers were mostly interested in the doctrinal implications of distinguishing rules and institutions dedicated to ‘commercial law’ from other aspects of civil or private law. Especially as states intervened more in economies, some tried to incorporate these developments into broader notions of ‘economic law’ or ‘business law’. Over the 1980s and particularly since the 1990s, however, more analysts have realized that ‘hard law’ promulgated and enforced by national authorities is only one way of regulating commercial behavior and expectations. Private and semi-private norms and dispute resolution processes within states, and growing regional and transnational dimensions even to hard law, underpin the emergence of ‘commercial regulation’ as a broader research agenda. An older strand of regulation theory had been built around the idea that regulators pursue the public interest. A newer strand acknowledged that they can pursue, instead or in addition, their private interests. Particularly under the latter approach, the main focus was on how regulation might be most efficiently generated and applied to achieve predefined goals.
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